Exploring the Synergy between Live Music Performance and
     Tabletop Tangible Interfaces: the Reactable

Mira Dontcheva   Sergi Jordà, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona
    sergi.jordaat signupf.edu

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 21, 2008

In this talk we will explore one of the application domains in which tangible and tabletop interfaces have currently shown more positive results, studying and unveiling the essential reasons that turn live music performance and tabletop interaction into promising and exiting fields of multidisciplinary research and experimentation. The talk will be structured in three parts. In the first one I will expose the main reasons that turn live music performance into an ideal test-bed for tangible interaction and advanced HCI. Reciprocally, in the second part we will study why tabletop interfaces promise remarkable new musical instruments. In the third part I will describe the main design issues that lead to the development of the reactable, a tabletop musical instrument that has been conceived based on many of the criteria exposed on the previous two parts.


Sergi Jordà holds a PhD in Computer Science and Digital Communication. He is a lecturer at the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, where he teaches computer music, audio programming, HCI, and interactive media arts.  Sergi discovered the magic of computer programming while completing a Bachelor of Science in Fundamental Physics in the early 1980s, and he immediately decided to give up the saxophone practice in order to become a computer music improviser. Since these early days, he has therefore pursued the complexity, delicacy and futility of real-time, multidimensional performer-instrument interaction. He has written many articles, books, given workshops and lectured though Europe, Asia and America, always trying to bridge HCI, music performance and interactive media arts. He is currently best known as one of the luthiers inventors of the reactable, a tangible interface and a new musical instrument that accomplished mass popularity after being integrated in Icelandic artist Bjork’s new world tour, and which has recently won the Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Digital Musics. As a luthier and improviser,  Sergi likes to invent new digital musical instruments without forgetting to make music with them, and although his music has been released on various labels and he has composed for different instrumental setups and for films, he prefers the immediacy and volatility of free improvisation.

View this talk on line at CS547 on Stanford OnLine or using this video link.

Titles and abstracts for previous years are available by year and by speaker.